Break out that bag of frozen peas (or an ice pack, if you want to get fancy) for the first 48 hours after the pain sets in, and put it to use for 20 minutes a session, several sessions per day. After those two days are behind you, switch to 20-minute intervals with a heating pad. Localized cooling shuts down capillaries and reduces blood flow to the area, which helps ease the swelling, says Lisa DeStefano, an associate professor at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing. Cold also thwarts your nerves' ability to conduct pain signals. Heat, on the other hand, loosens tight muscles and increases circulation, bringing extra oxygen to the rescue.
Cold and heat therapies. It's best to use cold compresses or an ice pack, not heat, immediately following a back injury, since this can alleviate pain by numbing the area and prevent or reduce swelling. About 48 hours after the onset of back pain, though, applying heating pads or a hot-water bottle to your back may be helpful. The warmth soothes and relaxes aching muscles and increases blood flow, which helps the healing process. Keep in mind that heat therapy is only helpful for the first week.
In one study of 28 women with osteoarthritis pain, half of the women listened to a 10 to 15 minute recorded script twice daily that guided them through muscle relaxation techniques. Women in the guided imagery group showed statistically significant improvements in their pain levels and mobility within 12 weeks, versus women in the control group who did not see any improvements.4
Did you know that the sensation of pain actually originates in your brain? Fortunately, we can actively alter the way our brain evaluates painful stimuli, helping to increase our pain tolerance and decrease painful symptoms.[12,13] Several techniques that aim to take more control over our minds and that relax the body can work wonders for pain control. Here are a few good examples:
This US-made pain relieving gel comes in a 16-ounce jar, meaning it doesn’t run out fast and is there when you need it. It provides an immediate cooling sensation as soon as it is applied, but it’s what happens next that makes it stand out. The cooling relief intensifies over the next 10 minutes while the ingredients are working together, until it reaches the maximum level of ultra freeze pain relief. This sensation is maintained for the next 30 minutes or more.
A type of enzyme extracted from pineapple stems, bromelain reduces levels of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions associated with musculoskeletal tension (such as TMJ syndrome), as well as those suffering trauma-related inflammation. What's more, the enzyme may promote healing in muscles and connective tissues.
When you think of a needle poking into your skin, the last thing you probably think about is natural pain relief. The truth is, though, that dry needling works by stimulating trigger points to reduce pain or disability. A 2007 study found dry needling significantly reduced shoulder pain by targeting a trigger point. Dry needling can also help deal with trigger points that reduce a person’s range of motion, which can lead to serious pain and musculoskeletal side effects.
Spreading a medication on your skin is not the same thing as swallowing it. Because Voltaren Gel is applied to the skin, dramatically less medication reaches the bloodstream — only a tiny fraction of what you would get from oral usage.1516 It is safe to assume that cardiovascular risks of moderate topical use are negligible compared to oral diclofenac, because so much less medication is actually getting into general circulation, and that is what the evidence now shows.17 Multiple studies have concluded that topical NSAIDs are both effective and safe.181920
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble and essential nutrient for humans. The most important components of vitamin E appear to be the tocopherols. All four forms of tocopherol have been shown to have antioxidant activity, but alphatocopherol is the strongest antioxidant. Alpha-tocopherol inhibits the oxidation of LDL, which can help prevent LDL from sticking to the arterial walls. In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E also acts to reduce blood coagulation and may help to lower blood pressure by eliciting endothelial relaxation.
Cool it off. To do a 10-minute ice massage, fill up small paper or foam cups about one third full and freeze them. When ready to use, peel away the top of the cup to expose the ice and gently slide over the painful area. Try to avoid the bony parts of the joint, such as the knee cap and elbow points. Cover the affected area with a plastic wrap before applying the ice to protect the skin, and place a towel underneath to pick up the moisture as the ice melts. You can also use ice cubes wrapped in plastic for smaller areas. Cold packs and wraps applied for 15 to 30 minutes may also relieve sore lower back or shoulders.
It is therefore necessary to resort to another type of product which are less harmful for our bodies. One of the most effective products, which is widely backed up by scientific studies, is the arnica plant extract. The most widely used plants with local anti-inflammatory action in phytotherapy are arnica (Arnica montana) and, in a distant second place, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens).
Curcumin is the bioactive compound in turmeric that gives the herb its healing properties. It’s one of the safest anti-inflammatories you can take, and is an effective natural pain reliever too — even for severe pain. In fact, curcumin matches or outperforms ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter painkillers without any side effects.